Ways to Control Weeds Without Chemicals
Weeds are many home gardeners’ biggest enemy. Roundup and other chemicals may seem like the best weapon in the arsenal against weeds. However, many experts discourage the use of chemicals. They can leach into fruits and vegetables. They also run off and trickle down into groundwater. Moreover, they are more expensive and less effective than many other methods. Ronald Smith of the North Dakota State University Department of Plant Sciences said “weed and seed” combinations in particular are typically weak and practically useless on home gardens and lawns. He said a blanket herbicide application cannot reverse a heavy weed infestation in a lawn. “This is not a debatable point. It is something we nailed down here at NDSU years ago in field trials,” Smith said. Fortunately, there are better ways to prevent and control weeds before they take over. However, Smith notes that only a full-time assault on weeds can keep out every weed. “It is totally unrealistic to think that anything short of the efforts, budget, and fanaticism that a professional golf course superintendent puts into caring for the greens, tees, and fairways, will produce a weed-free lawn,” he said. Here are seven strategies for preventing weed growth, and four methods of controlling existing weeds, with the advantages and disadvantages of each method. 1-Crowd out weeds with thick lawn cover. 2-Maintain healthy soil. 3- Till the garden. 4-Hoe the topsoil. 5-Mulch garden beds. 6-Cover the ground with landscape fabric. 7- Block everything with plastic sheets. 8-Burn weeds. 9-Keep weeds from going to seed. 10-Use biological controls such as insects and animals. 11-Vinegar and other organic herbicides. None of these methods will work by themselves, but some vigilance, regular control of undesirable plants and proper care for desirable plants should minimize weed growth without the need for any chemical controls. Also consider controlling your reaction to weeds. Some homeowners and even experts suggest a live and let live philosophy, so to speak. “If you look at my lawn, you would think this is my approach. It all depends on the persons wants,” Hartzler said. “My lawn has deep shade from trees, and two labs using it as their playground, so I realize it will be impossible to get a vigorous lawn, so I accept weeds. In my garden I weed enough to eliminate competition between the vegetables and weeds, but I accept a few weeds that emerge later in the season.” Lanini agrees. He notes that some grasses are technically weeds, but he doesn’t worry about them. Though he hunts down his perennial bindweed, he lets annual angel bluegrass grow every year.